Thanks to various technological, fiscal, and political revolutions that have reshaped our world over the past two decades, some observers believe, the new millennium will offer opportunities for economic expansion that rival any previously recorded. The Long Boom is a fascinating attempt to pin down this potential upsurge by combining a shrewd examination of where we've been headed for the last 20 years with a plausible forecast of where--with a bit of good fortune and tenacity--we might be going during the next 20. Moreover, its unique mixture of germane facts and figures with supportable projections and original storytelling techniques (most notably a letter to friends sent once a decade by a fictional observer born in 1960) make it as readable as it is provocative.
Originating as an article in Wired magazine, the optimistic scenario envisioned by authors Peter Schwartz (chairman of a combination think tank and consulting firm), Peter Leyden (a technology, economics, and political journalist), and Joel Hyatt (a Stanford entrepreneurship professor who cofounded the legal-services firm bearing his name) integrates existing and potential technological advancements, financial developments, political upheavals, and social movements. Among its predictions are a formulation of a "glass pipeline" that seamlessly tracks manufacturing and production processes, creation of a volunteer Global Corps to aid developing nations, the dawning of a true Space Age, and the birth of a unified worldwide society with "well-off people who share certain values that are transcending borders." The account is highly recommended to everyone concerned with, yet hopeful about, the future. --Howard Rothman
From Publishers Weekly
Based on an article originally published in Wired, this book suffers from the expansion, as the authors have to keep finding ways of telling readers that things will be great in the near future. Schwartz is chairman of Global Business Network, a consulting firm; Leyden was managing editor of Wired; Hyatt teaches at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Written with the same optimism about the economy as Dow 36,000 (Forecasts, Aug. 30), this sunny look at the future goes beyond the stock market to take an upbeat gander at the way we will live in the next century. To say that the authors are bullish is an understatement. Alternative energy sources, biotechnology and increased productivity figure prominently in their rosy scenarioAthe key to which is continued and extended economic growth in the developed world, which will trickle down to the developing world and create a global middle class. But in their zeal to describe how all parts of the world will participate in and benefit from the long boom, the authors make sweeping and potentially offensive generalizations: Asians, for example, while not good at "improvisation," are "extremely adept at mastering set courses and memorizingAfar better than" Westerners. The authors are on safer ground discussing technology, but their attitude toward this future is entirely passive. They give the impression that we will all sit back and marvel at the forthcoming human accomplishments, and that this will provide the chief pleasure in the future. Yet their vision is exciting, and the authors articulate it with the panache of Alvin TofflerAand the kind of wide-eyed confidence in the future that characterized the 1939 World's Fair. (Oct.)
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